Hindu Wedding!

IMG_20170411_170137The religions of Mauritius are primarily Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. In the neighborhood where we stayed on our recent visit we notice the Hindu temple, a mosque and St. Anne’s Church all in close proximity. We could hear the call to prayer from the mosque, the bells from the temple and the tolling bell of St. Anne’s throughout the course of any given day.

People of all three religions share a neighborhood, live next door to each other, share in each other’s life events. That is how it happened that we were invited to attend a nearby Hindu wedding by friends of our hosts.

Thanks to the generosity of another friend, Maria, we were gifted with traditional clothes and I also received a beautiful gold and red sari. It has 5 1/2 yards of fabric – but it’s silk – so it was very light and comfortable to wear. I’m not sure I could wrap it up myself – although, Maria did it quickly and easily.

The saris at the wedding were magnificent, with each sari more beautiful and ornate than the previous one. Women wore flowers and jewels in their hair, necklaces that draped down the back as well as in the front. Colors that were spectacular – eye popping – think bright turquoise silk bordered with fuchsia or emerald green rimmed in rich purple! Each woman there looked like a queen. Now imagine hundreds of guests. Live music.

Sit-down tables allowed dozens of guests to be served dinner at one time. As guests arrived throughout the evening they were seated at the tables. Seven different curries were served placed around on mound of rice on a place mat that looked like a banana leaf. Originally they used banana leaves. We used naan bread and our fingers to eat the rice dipped in curry. So different – but yum!

After dinner guests mingled, talked, greeted friends and family. A Hindu wedding is an impressive experience. I’m so glad we that the chance to attend.

What Can Women Do To Resist Patriarchy?

Patriarchy is the primary source of poverty. Since those struggling with poverty are primarily women and children, it behooves us to ask what we as women can do to end the patriarchal system that causes so much poverty.

The Gift of Rejection

InnerPeace1Sometimes experiences that are most hurtful can actually be a gift. Such is the case for those who have experienced scapegoating or rejection from those they love. A friend of mine was feeling the pain of having been shut out by most of his genetic family after coming out as a gay man. His father wouldn’t speak to him, his siblings and others refused to return his calls or emails. He was no longer invited to family events. As is often the case, family members were twisting the story to say that he had separated from them, that he had rejected them – to justify their scapegoating behavior.

All of this was truly painful for him – however it was also a gift. This young man had the benefit of knowing immediately who was actually his family. He knew without doubt who in his life would love and accept him unconditionally, as he was, for who he was. He knew immediately who would support him in living an authentic life – and who would not.

Sometimes this knowledge is invisible to us. Until a life-changing event (perhaps a divorce, death, serious illness, or revelation like my friend’s above) we may not realize that some relationships we hold dear are actually not loving at all, not supportive, not accepting.

Similarly, if you witness family members shutting someone out, gossiping or treating others badly, know that given the chance they will very likely do the same to you. Stand up for someone being treated badly – don’t collude with your silence. Don’t participate in the tribal mindset.

If you are unwilling to stand up for someone being mistreated for fear of rejection yourself, then know this: your fear is an indication that you are not being unconditionally accepted – you have already been rejected.

Unlike this young man’s so called “family,” when we really love someone, we want them to live their best life. We want them to leave toxic, abusive relationships or even relationships that make them unhappy or depressed. We aren’t interested in manipulating them or those around them. We don’t begrudge them their success, happiness or joy. Rather, we are interested in deeply listening to the story of their life journey, to their struggles and hopes. Likewise we are willing to share our journey with them too.

True acceptance, deep listening and sharing are the hallmarks of those who are actually our family, regardless of arbitrary genetic linkage. If you have felt the heart-wrenching pain of being abandoned, manipulated, scapegoated or rejected by those you love – see it for the gift that it is. Focus on deepening and encouraging relationships that are supportive and caring. Be with those who love being with you and who you love to be with!

What do you do with your suffering? Use your knowledge and experience of rejection to strengthen your emotional resilience, non-judgment and compassion for others – especially those who are excluded and marginalized. This is the mark of emotional and spiritual health. This is the mark of becoming truly human.

Mothers’ Day Wishes

Photo R. Meshar

Photo R. Meshar

Mothers’ Day greetings, wishes and blessings to all those who are mothers or have mothered others in their lives. Those who have cared for our physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being are many and today we acknowledge them.

Interestingly, counter to our cultural understanding, today is also an acknowledgment that no one is “self-made.” Rather our relationships with many others have helped to form who we are. Those who have been generous, kind and caring towards us have helped to bring out the best of who we are.

Today we give thanks for kind, caring and generous nurturers everywhere.